The apostle Paul boasted to other churches about the brethren in Thessalonica. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 “So that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.” How are you with persecutions and tribulations in your life? Would Paul boast about you? Or would he be critical of you?
Some Christians endure more persecutions than others. Brethren in the early church suffered beatings, imprisonment, confiscation of property and even death because of their faith in Jesus. The apostle Paul certainly suffered much. 2 Corinthians 11:24-26 “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren.” While some today endure similar persecutions, most of us suffer very little in the way of persecutions. I recall one time that a co-worker criticized and berated me because I was a Christian. A fellow believer told me he was treated poorly by his boss because of his faith. Since you are a Christian, someone may avoid you and not be your friend because of your faith. If you are really willing to stand up for Jesus, you will likely suffer persecution sometime in your life. 2 Timothy 3:12 “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
Tribulations can be any kind of problem in your life. They may be health issues or financial difficulties. They may be relationship problems with your boss or co-workers or parents or children or neighbors or fellow Christians. Tribulations may be loss of property or accidents that you suffer. They may be any sort of difficulty that you experience in your life. Everyone has tribulations in their life. Life does not go smoothly all of the time for any one of us.
When tribulations or persecutions come in your life, you should respond with patience and faith. Patience and faith should go together because as a result of your faith in God and his promises, you can have patience in your trials. For example, He tells you that He will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” (See also Hebrews 13:5) God will be with you in all of your trials, so you need not be afraid.
You can have patience in your trials because you have faith that tribulations develop in you the character that God wants you to have. Romans 5:3-5 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
You can respond with patience and faith because you know you are a light to others in this world. They look at you to see how a Christian responds to problems. Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
You can respond to tribulations and persecutions with patience and faith because you know that life is short and what God has prepared for you in Heaven is worth patiently enduring any problems and losses you face in this short life. Hebrews 10:32-34 “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.”
What would it look like if you patiently endured persecutions and tribulations? You would not complain, grumble or whine; you would not get angry, seek vengeance or revile those who oppress you. You would not blame others. Instead you would be prayerful. You would be joyful and filled with praise for God. You would be like Christ; remember He suffered much.
None of the tribulations or persecutions you suffer can separate you from the love of God. He still loves you. Romans 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Do you have faith in the love of God so that you will be patient in your persecutions and tribulations? My encouragement to you is to have faith and trust in God and choose to be patient in your trials. Look forward to eternal life with Jesus and God the Father.